Shots fired, U.S. embassies stormed in furious protest over film

Furious protests exploded around the world Friday as outraged demonstrators from Bangladesh to Sudan condemned an amateurish movie that mocked the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty womanizer and child molester.

One person was killed after Lebanese security forces clashed with angry protesters in the northern city of Tripoli who had hurled stones at a government building and tried to storm it, the official Lebanese National News Agency reported. A KFC was set ablaze and ransacked.

Infuriated protesters in Tunisia stormed the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tunis, and tore down the American flag, state media reported. Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas to try to scatter the crowd, the official Tunisian News Agency reported. Black smoke was seen rising around the embassy compound amid reports that an American school nearby had been set on fire.

PHOTOS: Protesters attack U.S. embassies, consulate

In Sudan, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used batons to try to prevent a wall of hundreds of protesters reaching the U.S Embassy in the capital, Khartoum, but a group managed to break through, breach the wall of the embassy and and raise a black Islamic flag.

U.S. Embassy officials in Khartoum said late Friday that police had dispersed the protesters.

The attack followed earlier riots by thousands of protesters at the German and British embassies in Khartoum. A furious mob stormed the German Embassy and set it on fire. Sudanese Islamic scholars had called on Sudanese people Thursday to protest "peacefully but with strength" to defend the prophet Muhammad.

TIMELINE: 'Innocence of Muslims' unrest

The Pentagon told reporters Friday that Marines were being deployed to Yemen to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sana, which had been stormed Thursday by protesters who smashed security office windows and broke past barriers to hurl stones and set cars on fire.

Protests continued to rage in Cairo, where anger over the movie first erupted earlier this week, for the fourth day in a row. Hundreds of men tried to break a police barricade to storm the U.S. Embassy as tear gas wafted across Tahrir Square.

"The U.S. ambassador must leave!" a young man in a T-shirt and blue jeans shouted as he was lifted up above the cheering crowds. Angry protesters said Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had not been tough enough in condemning the movie and was beholden to the West.

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Muslims hold small protest in Tel Aviv over film

JERUSALEM -- A few dozen members of the Islamic Movement in Israel held a nonviolent protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Thursday, holding banners saying “freedom of speech does not equal insulting the prophet Muhammad” and denouncing a film about Islam that has triggered protests in the Arab world as a “base and despicable act.” 

Wael Mahameed of Jaffa, among the organizers, told Israeli radio that “the West is trying to embarrass the Muslim world and incite against the Islamic nation, particularly where the prophet Muhammad is concerned.”

Other Islamic leaders in Israel appealed to ambassadors from the United States and European Union nations to pass legislation in their countries to prevent such insults, Israeli media reported.

The appearance on the Web of a trailer for "The Innocence of Muslims," a film made in Southern California, triggered demonstrations this week for its depiction of Muhammad as a buffoon who, among other things, condones pedophilia. A protest late Tuesday outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was followed by an attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In Israel on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro did not sound concerned for his safety, even as American missions continued to be targeted in neighboring countries. “I feel safe with our security and cooperation with Israel’s security services, yes,” he responded to a question while touring Israel’s south.

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Egyptian protesters, police continue to clash near U.S. Embassy

This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

CAIRO -- As Egypt's security forces fired tear gas Thursday to disperse rock-throwing crowds near the U.S. Embassy here, President Mohamed Morsi condemned attacks on American missions in his country and Libya.

Two days after protesters scaled the embassy's walls to take down the U.S. flag, hundreds of people clashed with security forces in downtown Cairo. As the scuffles have continued throughout the day, about 70 people have been injured, among them members of security forces, according to the state-run news agency.

[Updated 2:01 p.m. Sept. 13: The state news agency later reported that at least 224 people had been injured. The state-run Al Ahram newspaper reported 24 arrests so far in the ongoing clashes.]

The protests purportedly were initially sparked by anger over a video produced in the United States that many Muslims deem insulting to the prophet Muhammad and Islam.

PHOTOS: Protesters haul down flag at U.S. Embassy in Cairo

On Thursday, live video from Cairo showed hundreds of protesters chanting as they charged at security forces on the outskirts of the embassy: "With our soul, our blood, we’ll sacrifice ourselves for you, prophet." 

But unlike earlier in the week, the protesters clashing with security forces on Thursday were primarily street youths and so-called soccer hooligans with no clear political affiliation.

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Taliban vows to retaliate for anti-Islam video

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The Taliban movement on Thursday harshly denounced an amateur video mocking Islam, blaming "bestial" America for its production and urging that the Muslim world respond with "appropriate action."

Most Western installations in the Afghan capital were on high alert in advance of Friday prayers, which are the main religious event of the Muslim week and a sometime flash point for violent protests, especially if mosque preachers, or imams, take to the pulpit to condemn a perceived insult to Islam.

The crudely made video was thought to have sparked attacks Tuesday on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, which left the U.S. envoy to Libya and three other Americans dead.

The Taliban statement said its fighters would redouble efforts to strike at U.S. bases and "invading" troops in retaliation for the video, and urged religious scholars to "fully inform the masses about ... barbaric acts of America" in their Friday sermons.

A day earlier, President Hamid Karzai issued a sharply worded statement calling the video a "desecrating act." In the past, such statements from the presidential palace have sometimes been taken by conservative religious leaders as tacit approval for whipping up angry street demonstrations.


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-- Laura King

YouTube blocks users in Libya, Egypt from video mocking Muhammad

YouTube has blocked users in Libya and Egypt from watching a video mocking Muhammad that set off violent protests in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, it announced Wednesday.

In a statement, YouTube said the video would stay on its website but was being temporarily restricted in the two countries.

Though the film was clearly within its guidelines and is now widely available online, YouTube decided to restrict it “given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt,” it said.

“Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya,” the company concluded its statement.

YouTube users in Egypt who tried to access the video were met with a message saying, “This content is not available in your country due to a legal complaint. Sorry about that.”

The YouTube statement made no reference to any restrictions in Afghanistan, where government officials have reportedly tried to shut down access to YouTube to stop the video from being viewed. The Afghan government's information technology director, Aimal Marjan, told the Associated Press that authorities had temporarily blocked Afghans from reaching the site.

The video was uploaded in July, later dubbed into Arabic and circulated on Twitter by Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Christian activist living in the United States. It portrays the Islamic prophet as violent and sexually deviant.

Protests erupted Tuesday in Cairo and Benghazi over the video, said to have been made by an American who identified himself to reporters as Sam Bacile. The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and burned, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.


American ambassador's death renews focus on Libyan tensions

Calls to protest movie mocking Muhammad spread to Algeria, Iran

Some Syrian activists angry about Arab outrage over Muhammad video

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles and Reem Abdellatif in Cairo

Calls to protest movie mocking Muhammad spread to Algeria, Iran


The day after outraged Egyptians scaled the walls of the American Embassy in Cairo and Libyan militants attacked and burned the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, protests and denunciations against an amateur movie mocking the Islamic prophet spread across the region, spurring warnings for Americans abroad.

Dozens of people turned out to protest in Gaza, chanting anti-American slogans and calling for the death of the  filmmaker behind it. In Tunisia, scores of protesters reportedly burned American flags outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis; Reuters reported that police scattered the protesters using tear gas and firing rubber bullets into the air.

In Algeria, the U.S. Embassy cautioned Americans to avoid its building and other official government buildings Wednesday afternoon, sending an emergency message to U.S. citizens after calls for protests went out on social media.

Iranians angered by the film planned to protest Thursday in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. diplomatic interests in the country. As calls to protest went out Wednesday, an Iranian official faulted the U.S. for not stopping insults to Islam.

“The U.S. government’s systematic and continued silence on such repulsive acts is the fundamental reason that they keep happening,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by state media. Mehmanparast made no mention of the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in his remarks.

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Some Syrian activists angry about Arab outrage over Muhammad video

Some Syrian anti-government activists expressed frustration that a controversial video belittling the prophet Muhammad is generating more outrage among Arabs than the rising death toll within Syria
ANTAKYA, Turkey -- Some Syrian anti-government activists expressed frustration Wednesday that a controversial video belittling the prophet Muhammad is generating more outrage among Arabs than the rising death toll within Syria.

Comments on social media sites by some opposition activists said the protests over the video in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed, epitomize a focus on symbolic and religious issues versus a relative indifference over the desperate plight of Syrian civilians.

"The only thing that seems to mobilize the Arab street is a movie, a cartoon or an insult, but not the pool of blood in Syria," wrote one Syrian activist on Twitter.

Since anti-government protests broke out in March 2011, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by the security forces of President Bashar Assad and rebel forces, according to United Nations figures.

"One thing is clear," tweeted Shakeeb Jabri, a Syrian activist. "Syrians are quite pissed off at those who protested the Mohammad movie and not Assad's shelling of mosques.”

Another activist, known as @SyrianSunnyBoy, offered a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: "Syrian filmmakers should also make [a] film 'insulting' Prophet Mohammed if that would mobilize ppl [sic] in Egypt against [the] embassy of Syria in Cairo."

A Syrian film director, who asked not to be identified by name, wrote on his Facebook page about what he viewed as a double standard.

"You killed an American Ambassador for a silly film but people are dying on the streets, women are being raped, Palestine is gone," he wrote. "All the ignorance and lack of knowledge in the Arab Muslim world is ok.  But 'don’t touch the Prophet.'"

Domary, a popular Syrian satirical Facebook page, carried the following commentary:

"The Arab people are emotional.

Films make them laugh.

Films make them upset.

Films make them cry.

Films make them angry and let them go crazy and kill.

But when they see in Syria mosques and churches getting shelled.

Koran books getting burned.

Women being insulted.

It doesn't move them.

Because it is not a film.

It's reality.

We wish that what is happening in Syria was a film.

At least Arabs would do something for us."


Clinton praises ambassador to Libya, calls attackers "savage group"

Killing of U.S. ambassador, 3 staffers condemned by Libyan officials

Four suspects reportedly arrested in breach of U.S. Embassy in Cairo

-- Rima Marrouch

Photo: Egyptian protesters climb the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, tagging them with graffiti in Arabic that reads "any one but you God's prophet" during protests on Tuesday. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press

Four suspects reportedly arrested in breach of U.S. Embassy in Cairo


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

CAIRO -- Four suspects accused of breaching the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo were arrested Wednesday, Egyptian state media reported.

The brief report from the official Middle East News Agency said the four arrestees had been transferred to the state prosecutor. Security forces were still searching for others who had scaled the embassy walls during a demonstration Tuesday, the news agency said.

Protesters enraged over a film mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad climbed over the embassy walls and tore down an American flag, briefly raising a black flag that carried the words: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

PHOTOS: U.S. ambassador killed in attack on consulate in Libya

More severe violence erupted later Tuesday in Libya, where U.S. Ambassador Christopher  Stevens and three other Americans were killed as a mob attacked and burned the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Egyptian officials have condemned the movie but stressed that the U.S. government had nothing to do with making the film, calling the Tuesday incident “regrettable and unacceptable.”

The Egyptian prosecutor general has also placed nine Coptic Christians living abroad and Florida pastor Terry Jones, who praised and promoted the amateur film, on a travel watch list. Jones and the Copts are wanted for questioning by Egyptian officials after several lawyers filed complaints against them, alleging they were tied to the film and had defamed Islam.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said visa services Wednesday and Thursday were canceled. The embassy said it would still be offering emergency services to American citizens, who it advised to avoid large areas where large gatherings may occur.

"The security situation remains fluid," it warned on its website.

[For the record, 10:42 a.m. Sept. 12: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the embassy would be closed Thursday; it will be open but visa services are not being offered.]


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About 50 Marines heading to Libya to increase security at embassy

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-- Reem Abdellatif in Cairo and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Wednesday. The Arabic on the wall reads, "anyone but God's prophet." Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press

Egypt officials condemn film, ask Egyptians for 'self-restraint'


CAIRO -- The Egyptian government said Wednesday that it strongly condemned a movie ridiculing the prophet Muhammad that triggered violent protests in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, but called for "self-restraint" among those outraged by the film.

Prime Minister Hesham Kandil told Egyptians that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the video and said the riot Tuesday at the American Embassy in Cairo was unacceptable. However, Kandil went on to urge the United States to take a firm stand against those who produced the film, saying it should act under international agreements against inciting racist and religious strife.

In a later statement, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi "condemned the transgression upon the prophet and ordered the Egyptian Embassy in Washington to take appropriate legal measures against the producers of the film," his spokesman Yasser Ali said Wednesday.

The Tuesday protests in Cairo were fueled by anger over an amateur movie screened on a Salafist-run television channel that depicted the Islamic prophet and his followers as “child lovers.” The film was produced by an American who told the Associated Press that Islam was "a cancer, period."

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Afghan leader rips film tied to Libya attack, raising fears of violence

KABUL, Afghanistan -- President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday condemned an American-made film that mocks Islam, galvanizing fears among Westerners that the Afghan leader's denunciation could be read as a go-ahead to stage violent protests.

The presidential palace said in a statement that Karzai "strongly and resolutely denounces this desecrating act" and expressed "abhorrence in the face of such an insult."

The film, clips of which were disseminated by fringe Florida pastor Terry Jones, has already prompted deadly violence in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo also came under assault.

PHOTOS: U.S. ambassador killed in attack on consulate in Libya

Karzai's statement did not mention the attacks in Libya and Egypt.

Afghans tend to have hair-trigger sensibilities regarding any perceived insult to the Muslim faith. Earlier this year, the country was torn by lethal unrest after U.S. troops mistakenly burned copies of the Koran at Bagram air base, north of the capital. About three dozen people died, including four American troops.

A condemnation from Karzai was thought to have inflamed passions in the spring of 2010, after Jones and his followers staged a Koran-burning. Nearly two weeks elapsed without any reaction in Afghanistan, until Karzai issued a call for Jones' arrest and prosecution. The next day, April 1, a furious mob descended on the U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing seven foreign U.N. workers.

Karzai's public stance toward the NATO force and his U.S. patrons has been somewhat hostile of late. He issued a strident statement accusing the United States of disregarding Afghan sovereignty after American authorities retained some Taliban and other insurgent suspects when handing the country's main military detention facility over to Afghan control. And the Afghan leader commemorated Tuesday's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by criticizing the West's conduct of the war in Afghanistan.


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-- Laura King



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